George Osborne has woken to a wave of criticism after shock figures revealed Britain languishing in the longest double-dip recession for more than 50 years.
The ONS official figures, released on Wednesday, show that gross domestic product shrank by 0.7% between April and June, 0.5% more than originally forecast.
But instead of blaming the government's continued insistence on austerity measures, economists have surprisingly pointed the finger at the extra bank holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and the huge rainfall in the past two months.
Osborne: 'Britain has deep rooted economic problems'
Previously, economists have blamed the snow, the Royal Wedding, rain and bank holidays for the UK's economic woes.
Wednesday's figures are a further blow to the beleaguered chancellor following a string of disastrous headlines after the “omnishambles” Budget.
However, this latest round of disapproval in the wake of the GDP fall could prove most damaging as the chancellor has continually claimed the economy is “his responsibility”.
Ed Balls called the figures "shocking" and said that George Osborne’s "ill-judged plan has turned Britain’s recovery into a flatlining economy and now a deep and deepening recession."
He added: "It is clear that this government’s plan has failed. If these figures don’t make the chancellor wake up and change course, then I don’t know what will."
Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, called the ONS publication “a disastrous verdict on George Osborne's failed plan”, while Labour MP Chuka Umunna called the 0.7% drop in GDP "more evidence of the economic incompetence of a government which simply refuses to listen and change course".
Commenting on the fact that the ONS blamed the weather for nation's bleak economic performance, political commentator Owen Jones said: "Odd how rain didn't cause 0.7% drops in GDP before the crisis began, isn't it?"
In reaction to the figures, Osborne said: "We know the economy has deep-rooted problems. Today's disappointing figures are further confirmation of that."
He insisted the coalition had a "relentless focus on the economy".
"We have got to deal with the debts we have built up in this country over many years," he said.
Asked whether the Queen's Jubilee bank holiday had hit UK plc, he replied: "Of course there are one-off factors like the Bank Holiday but that is not an excuse I am using.
"Even without that, these would be disappointing figures."
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